“…there's little question that many of the performances have an immediacy of impact that remains unrivalled to this day, the Fourth, Fifth and Thirteenth in particular maintaining their status as classic interpretations. Elsewhere there are plenty of instances where the tension seems to operate at an almost unbearable fever pitch such as in the disturbingly unhinged account of the opening movement of the Fifteenth... the Kondrashin set is surely a must for all Shostakovich devotees.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2007 *****
“If Kondrashin's name isn't the first listeners associate with the composer these days that has more to do with the spotty availability of his recordings than with their intrinsic quality. Of course the sound is not state-of-the-art, the mid-range tending to be rather crowded and shouty, but the transfers are more than listenable. The Fourth in particular is an enormous improvement on its mono-only predecessor, the Ninth disappointing only in the way the sound cuts out abruptly at the close, probably to disguise wear on the master tape. Both these readings are usually judged 'definitive' and the Russians have added to the attractions of the cycle with extras occupying the same high ground. You'll not find a more compelling account of The Execution of Stepan Razin than the one by its onlie begetters and this would seem to be the most 'official' transfer of David Oistrakh's Second Violin Concerto currently doing the rounds.
Black marks, and there had to be some, are earned by the flimsiness of the box containing the 11 sturdy individual cardboard folders and the lack of adequate annotations, texts and translations.
This is the textually bowdlerised version of the Thirteenth which weakens the author's personal identification with the fate of the Jewish people. Here the indictment of anti-Semitism becomes less specific to Mother Russia and we are reminded of the latter's 'heroic deed in blocking the way to Fascism'. Not that you'd know it. Neither this nor the Fourteenth make much sense without the words in front of you.
Whatever the case, the Melodiya set is a compulsory purchase for all true lovers of Shostakovich, especially those who feel that most recent recordings speak with a foreign accent or are simply too damn slow! The first complete Shostakovich cycle from one interpreter can still startle with its resilience and panache and the raw tone of the Moscow Philharmonic is part and parcel of the appeal. Over to you.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“The Melodiya set is a compulsory purchase for all true lovers of Shostakovich, especially those who feel that most recent recordings speak with a foreign accent…The first complete Shostakovich cycle from one interpreter can still startle with its resilience and panache” Gramophone Magazine
“it remains mandatory listening...on balance this all has the ring of authenticity that one expects from a conductor who was so closely associated with the composer and who gave the premieres of Symphonies 4 & 13.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition